Architecture students explore design solutions during Accessibility Awareness Day

Author: Michael O. Garvey


Several students of the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture will experience firsthand the challenges confronting people with disabilities in daily campus life, during the University’s eighth Accessibility Awareness Day on Friday (Sept. 4).

Sponsored annually at the beginning of the fall semester by the School of Architecture, in conjunction with the Office of the University Architect and Disability Services, the event is designed to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with physical disabilities and to make architecture students more aware of the many facets of accessible design in ordinary student life at Notre Dame.

According to John Mellor, associate professor of the practice in architecture and coordinator of the 2015 Accessibility Awareness Day, fourth-year and graduate architecture students will meet at 8 a.m. Friday in Room 104 of Bond Hall, where they will be organized into groups and issued devices such as wheelchairs and blindfolds to help simulate life with a disability. “The students will then spend the morning on campus experiencing Notre Dame from a point of view they have not yet been exposed to, including attending classes, visiting the dining hall, crossing the quads and using restrooms,” Mellor said. “We will ask them to take notes and use their phones to photograph and document their experiences throughout the morning.”

The students will regather at 1:15 p.m. in 104 Bond Hall for a conversation on their experiences over the course of the morning. They also will hear short presentations by Mellor and Kim Rollings, assistant professor of architecture, on accessibility and building codes, and the idea of universal design. Chris Hartz, an architect from Alliance Architects of South Bend, will talk about accessibility from the professional point of view. The event will conclude with a roundtable discussion including Mellor; Rollings; Scott Howland, coordinator of Disability Services; and Pamela James of the University Architect’s Office.

Contact: Mary Beth Zachariades, School of Architecture, 574-631-5720,